It’s February, and I’m convinced that February in the Pacific Northwest is one of the most dreary experiences known to man. It’s almost superimposed depression—inescapable and paralyzing. Apathy is binding and compulsory.
The February-like qualities of the Pacific Northwest (cold, wet, dark) are often present throughout the year, but they’re heightened and exaggerated right now—to the extent that the earth’s foggy dampness seems to permeate human brains and bodies.
Each February that I’ve spent in Olympia, I’ve noticed a trend in my own behavior: wanting to sink into the most soul-crushing, mind-numbing, bodily degrading demeanor I can, trying to find a delicate balance between practicing existential self-awareness and completely ignoring my own sanity.
This is the month when I typically try unsuccessfully to take up smoking (not worth the two-day stomachache or risking my ability to sing) and sacrifice precious hours normally devoted to sleep, in order to seek a writing voice that will adequately convey my lethargic, listless, sweet, sweet February creativity… because, for whatever reason, in February all this apathy manifests in crazy amounts of burning ambition.
But it’s February, which means that as I lift my feet to storm out the door and take on the world, I find that they’re strapped—no, glued—to slabs of concrete that sink into my couch cushions and immobilize me while another episode is mysteriously queued up on Netflix.
This all-consuming belly fire puts me on high alert for recognizing new opportunities and desires, but any ideas that require energy or power are extinguished pretty quickly by the clammy hands of February lethargy.
February is awful. It’s just awful. Fashion is in a slump, TV shows are in a slump, produce items of all kinds are in a slump…
It’s like freshman year of high school is rolled up into every calendar year, over and over again. February is that one teacher you have who decides to create the most miserable class because if you can’t make it through that, you probably just shouldn’t bother going to this school. You get knocked down, and if you can’t get up, you’re out.
The whole month is the worst parts of Groundhog Day, and guess what? Every year we wake up and there’s another February.
It’s just past the new year, so there’s still a lingering New Start feeling and the possibility of endless possibilities. But oppressive darkness and the feeling of debilitating laziness or ineffectiveness are more prevalent than any motivation to actually do anything.
But the most mystifying thing about February is the bliss that accompanies this agony.
You know that scene in “Love Actually” where Liam Neeson’s stepson reveals that the reason he’s been absent and morose is not because he’s hooked on heroine at 11, but because he’s in love? And Liam Neeson, relieved, says, “I thought it would be something worse,” to which his incredibly astute stepson replies, “Worse… than the total agony of being in love?”
I attribute this bliss in agony to being able to so acutely identify with songwriters and poets for one month out of the year. In fact, my personal theory is that at least 82% of poetry is imagined and written in February.
At least it’s only 28 days long. You bulk up your intake of Vitamin D and pray for nothing important to happen while you experience monthlong brain fog, and in the meantime you experience this pounding in your chest that makes you want to be everything in the world.
Good luck, everyone. To help us all, I’ve created a playlist of fitting songs (including one dedicated to my parents, whose anniversary is the only redeeming feature of February).